Thursday, October 24, 2013

Aoife and Demon by Shumila Ghyas and Humeira Kazmi

The premise of the plot is intriguing and the setting is rather interesting. The characters are interesting and I am more than interested enough to see what happens in the next part of the book. However, it is not without difficulties.

First the good parts. The characters are mostly well developed. Aoife is self-centered without being selfish, a result of being both sheltered and spoiled through most of her life. She has more recently been living under the thumb of her step-mother who has pretty much emotionally abused her. Emotionally, Aoife seems frozen in her mid-teens despite being about nineteen. Her maturity is much less than it should be for someone of her age, realistically so given her background. She is rebellious without truly being independent. She is aggressive while being abhorrent of the idea of hurting people. She is both naive and suspicious, moving from one to the other often at the worst times. She is very physically strong, but her immaturity means that most of her problems are self-made. However, she definitely does some growing up over the course of the story.

The other characters, viewed entirely through Aoife's perspective, tend to be less well developed if only because we only see their actions and words as compared to being able to see Aoife's thoughts on the matter. This is part of the nature of first-person perspective, however. Demon is well-rounded, however, the facts about him are released in such an order as to be confusing, as noted later below. Azure is pretty static so far. Aoife shows a lot of dynamic nature, and Demon shows a very little bit of being a dynamic character, but Azure and the other characters seem to be unchanging, static characters for now.

The world detail is very rich, and the Realm is an interesting place, though I do wonder whether these kingdoms are separate planets within the universe of the Realm or else separate kingdoms within one large planet. The history is very engaging and the poetry and songs written for the book are enjoyable. I'm still looking forward to hearing more on the Ducimas amazons to see if there's more sides to them than just the warmongering they've shown off so far.

Once I got into the plot, it held me and I really enjoyed reading it. I was, and am, very interested in seeing what would happen next. It became especially fun to watch as Aoife stumbled from one blunder to another, as the mistakes continued to fit in realistically to her character without making her seem actually incompetent. Her unfamiliarity with her new world is palpable. And by new world, I don't just mean that of the Realm, but also the idea of warfare and intrigue. Compared to being brought to an alternate reality, the necessities of war and the like are far more alien to Aoife and it is her discomfort and denial of the things she needs to accept that most drive the plot in this first book.

However, there are some sort points, along with the usual editing errors that come with independent novels.

The story starts off as a sort of standard supernatural romance plot, with the young girl whisked away to the castle of a lusty demon who immediately sets about seducing her. Of course, this initial situation is interrupted before things move on to a rating increase. However, there is a disconnect between Demon's manner at his introduction and the truth of his character that doesn't get fully explained until further in the book.

This is partially because the book is told from the first person in Aoife's perspective and we thus only have the facts that she has paid much attention to. This initially gave me the false impression that Demon's character was poorly written when we are just not presented with all the facts necessary to explain that first meeting. The fact that it is the first meeting makes it even worse since we have no prior information to base his personality on. It is possible that I may have somehow missed an explanation somewhere, since when got to a point where the circumstances were explained, Aoife showed no surprise about them. However, having a poor handle on how to place Demon's character may have been the root of my other issues with the story.

There are parts of the story where the action seems to move incredibly slow. As I have said, my disconnect between Demon's introduction and his normal sort of behavior might have something to do with this. It is easily possible that I was working harder than I should have to make sense of his character. However, that is simply my guess as to a cause for the feeling.

The novel seemed to end not long after I finally felt myself hooked, and I am waiting for the next part.

So that's my review. It took me a while to really get a good reading pace going, but when the bumps got evened out, the book as a whole proved enjoyable. I'm hoping the second book irons out some of the issues and elevates this series into another star.

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